As I am still new to fish and ponds I have been trying to read up here on what to do in the pond over winter. Various web sites give a load of conflicting advice, but the advice here on Fk does seem to be more consistent. I am still building parts of the pond so now would be a good time to incorporate anything that might help during winter.
Cover: I gather a lot of vegetation will die off so I need to give the fish more cover and places to hide?
Pump and filter: A lot of people here suggest you can leave them running them all winter (with the filter raised a little to leave the lower water stable). In a severe frost should the pump be turned off, and how long can it be left off before all the carefully cycled bacteria in the filter start to die off?
At lower than about 10?C the fish need less or no food. Does this affect the ammonia->nitrite->nitrate cycle as there will be less (or no?) fish waste?
Is it a daft luxury to have the pond heated at all (My pond is ~850 litres with goldfish and shubunkin)?
Does anyone have any other hints or tips for winter time?
Most of these questions have been prompted by old messages in this forum, sorry if you think I am going over old ground here.
1. The fish will require no hiding places in the winter, when it gets every cold they will just sit on bottom.
2. If you can raise the pump or no less than a foott from the surface, if not move to the side of the pond rather than in the middle.
3. In the winter the fish will excrete very little ammoninoa, also the bacteria will start to die off anyway due to the temperature. So you dont need to worry about the the bacteria, but i would still recommond the pump being on as when it does start to warm up theres no rush or worry about the bacteria, by leaving it on it will allow the bacteria to naturaly start.
4. Its very daft to heat a pond in my opinion, even if i was a millionaire i still wouldnt heat my pond. Instead if you can make a cover made from wish bubblewrap it will keep the temperature warm enough without a huge electrical bill.
In terms of other tips, try and provide doing any work in the pond, the last thing you want to do is disturb the fish.
rubadub, I agree with most of the points that Fredrick has made, the only area where we differ is that I have my pump on a timer. In the Winter Months when the fish aren't feeding the pump just comes on for 15 mins every four hours (I use a manual timer where each little 'tab' is 15 min duration and you can set as many on's and off's as you want), this reduces electric bills, reduces wear on the pump but still cycles water through the filters regularly. I also turn off UV's etc.
When the temperature is very cold I run the pump constantly to stop the pond from completely icing over.
The pond is fairly new but there doesn't seem to be much I need to do to specially design it for winter, so I will just finish off the surrounding wall (it is a raised pond) to try and give it some thermal insulation before it gets cold.
Thanks for all the advice, it is appreciated. I just hope one day I know enough to help out on all of the other questions raised here
Thanks BigKev, I have already taken your advice and used expanding foam to insulate parts of the gaps between wall and pond. It doesn't half make a mess, but thankfully its all hidden by the wall
And Mitchofmedway I have had a similar active spell in the pond too. The fish are thriving (apart from one that is starting to have black smudges along its flanks and rear) and the blanket weed has been growing like topsy. I hadn't thought of insulating the pipes doh!. Thats such an obvious thing to do, thanks.